No Choice But to Continue

Dearest Rachel –

You would probably be pleased note I stayed awake during the entire two hour run of Anime Hell; no need for you to nudge me awake as I nodded off (a good thing, since you weren’t there to do so – I know now how those folks we would always see scattered about the convention sound asleep in the strangest places came to be, not that I ever had any real doubts), no concern that I might miss something particularly funny. To be sure, I wouldn’t say anything particularly funny was aired, but things always seem funnier when you’re in the middle of a large group of other people laughing. The fact that it was getting late doesn’t hurt, either – as everyone gets more tired and punchy, everybody in the group finds everything that much funnier, and those that don’t are swept up in the group laughter dynamic, and so forth.

It’s probably why the organizers of the production refuse to create an online version to be watched from the comfort of one’s home, even during the pandemic. It just doesn’t have that same vibe of being part of a large crowd.

But after these past few years of watching primarily short-form YouTube videos, I’ve allowed my attention span to atrophy. I can’t stick around for Midnight Madness: a 30-40 minute subject would have me nodding off, especially at this hour, most likely. Besides, I’d wager that the things they would show would be repeats of those that have been screened here so many times before. There are always newbies who need to be introduced to the classics, after all.

But I’m not one of them any more. I’m old – heck, we were attending this convention before probably half of these kids were even born – and despite having been able to stay awake throughout Anime Hell, I think I’d be pushing my luck to try yet another panel. If nothing else, what’s to happen to me if I do nod off? There’s no one to wake me up anymore.

Time for the better part of valor, as they say; time to head back to the hotel.

Only, as I stepped outside, it was obvious that the asphalt was damp, as if it had been raining during the couple hours I’d been hiding out in the screening room. After a few steps out from under one overhang or another, I realized it was still raining.

Well. This is going to be a problem.

Being the night owl you were, you’d probably have suggested that we turn back and wait out the rain at the Hyatt; if nothing else, the Midnight Madness would just have gotten started, and it might be worth our while to check it out after all. But it’s just not the same on my own. Even the panel rooms discussing what I’ll refer to as ‘post-watershed’ material (those familiar with British series like Doctor Who and Torchwood will understand) don’t hold the same appeal as they used to; attending a panel like that as a married couple identifies us as open-minded, going as an single male (and an old and unattractive one at that) identifies me as a creep. More on that later.

Besides, by the time I realized what a problem the weather was, I’d gotten to the bus stop at the corner of Byrn Mawr and River (and I had to get to the very back of the bus stop in order to avoid being drenched by a cinematic plume of water raised by a passing car – the puddle at the side of the road was already that deep. This isn’t why it’s called River Road, but it doesn’t damage the reputation). It was too late to turn back.

So. Home, or at least the convention equivalent. But can I wait for this to taper off?

Not really. Now that it’s apparently gotten a second wind, the rain doesn’t seem to be likely to stop. Oh, it may slow down from time to time, and I try to find shelter when it gets more intense, but once I’m past the convention center, there is no shelter to be found in that last block-long stretch en route to the hotel. There’s nothing for me to do but continue forward, walking through the rain. It’s a metaphor for life in general, and my life in particular. How else to get home, except by pushing through whatever gets thrown at you?

And eventually, with a few moments where I have to hold my hand above my head to keep the rain away from my glasses, I make it home, thus extending the metaphor to its successful resolution.

So now it’s time to get some sleep, as it’s getting past one in the morning, and that walk tired me out. But it’s one thing to get undressed in front of you or (hopefully) Megumi someday; in front of the boys, it’s a different story. But I certainly can’t sleep in the wet shirt I’ve been wearing, so I switch over to this one, since I can’t wear it in public anymore:

The shirt is taken from – as I understand it – an actual warning sign displayed in public transit stations in Japan (and possibly China, given that’s it’s all in Chinese characters). It says, roughly speaking, “Beware of perverts on the subway.” Silly in the context of an anime convention, and perfectly harmless were I accompanied by you, and vice versa. By myself, it expresses a completely different dynamic, one that I really don’t want to convey. So, a nightshirt it is from now on, I suppose.

I do find myself hoping that it doesn’t keep raining for the rest of the convention, however, or things will get quite unpleasant. Can’t we just say I’ve learned my life lesson tonight, and have done with it?

Anyway, honey, an eye out for us all, and wish us luck – we’re going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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